When starting your fishkeeping journey, many aquarists start at the local pet store. Some have the option of going to a local aquarium store to get started. But most have two options: Big Box pet stores or Online(amazon, Chewy, etc. ). These stores for the most part are ok. They sell the same 2-5 brands plus a few of their own brands. Online retailers sell a lot more options. Over the years the big box stores have gotten better. Petco's Imagitarium medicines use all natural oils and don't effect fish or your bio filter which is a great alternative to Seachem if you cant get your hands on it. However, these stores will very in quality depending on the manager and employees that work there. Some stores you will get very knowledgeable staff that keep the tanks nice and clean. Some stores will have dirty tanks and staff that just sell you whats there and follow what the box says. Online retailers will sell you all kinds of brands with no direction whatsoever for the most part. This brings us to a problem for both online and brick and mortar stores: Tank marketing. If you have the advantage to have a good aquarium store by you, this problem is often not an issue because the owner is likely more invested in his own stock and his customers and will tell you what fish can go into what size tank.
The above image you can see a standard product that these stores would possible sell. The tank itself is a 1.6 gallon aquarium. It does state that it is perfect for small fish, but it then goes on to show you guppies...which wouldn't do well over two fish in this tank and wouldn't be happy. Furthermore, there is a shrunken down image of a Dwarf or Blue Gourami which wouldn't survive in that little of space and would be stressed out its whole life. To the person walking up to this tank not knowing the correct way to start this hobby out, they may either be confused or think that both kinds of fish would be fine in this small of a tank. This is not the case. For this 1.6, we recommend to have some snails and possible some cherry or ghost shrimp but thats all it can sustain.
As tanks start to get bigger, they don't seem to get a whole lot better. Above, the customer would have been in the same situation with this 10 gallon kit. Not knowing what to stock said tank with and with no help, one would probably order what the box advises. in this case, 3 fancy goldfish need at least 25 gallons if not more. they wouldn't survive in this tank, especially pre-establishment. Here i would suggest guppies, minnows, or small tetras. 5-6 max depending on size. A couple of minnows and a betta would also be fine. Some cherry shrimp and a few snails can also be added. The above example is also a horrible example of décor. Everyone has tastes, but most fish want real plants and a more natural environment.
Glofish tanks also suffer from the same issue. We see here that two GloTetra and two GloMinnows are being stocked in a 3 gallon tank....much too small for the Tetra alone.
This issue can also be found in Betta tanks, as described in our last blog post. Betta bowls, vases, jars, anything under 5 gallons is often far too small for the fish themselves. Like the setup below:
In conclusion, when starting out in this hobby ask questions and do your research on the care and what is expected when buying your first( or your next) fish tank. Go to local fish stores when possible as they are more willing to give proper information. Note the fish and scape you are aiming for along with the size and see what the fish require. There are many places to get free information from. Sites like fishlore.com, petscord.com, and even Reddit.com to name a few. As always you can always message us or give us a call and we would be able to assist as well!